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EI on Front Burner Again

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As members will recall, in 2007 the Institute’s Task Force on the Financing of Employment Insurance produced a report entitled A Look Back and A Way Forward: Actuarial Views on the Future of the Employment Insurance System.

The report was launched at a press conference on Parliament Hill hosted by then-CIA President Mike Hale and task force chair Bruno Gagnon and member Michel Bédard, followed by meetings with government officials and members of Parliament. A few months later, in March 2008, the government launched legislation within its Budget Implementation Bill to create the arm’s-length body that the CIA had advocated for, the Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board (CEIFB). However, there were serious flaws in the CEIFB concept, and the CIA met Commons and Senate committees to seek changes to the legislation before it was passed.

While our lobbying efforts were not completely successful, the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance did say:

EI Fund—The majority of the Committee agrees with several witnesses, including the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, who expressed concern that the $2 billion Employment Insurance EI fund reserve is woefully inadequate. A larger reserve in the range of $12 billion to $15 billion is needed, both to permit the Financing Board to avoid dramatic fluctuations in premium rates, and to ensure that the fund will be adequate to cover a sharp rise in benefit payments during any future economic downturn.

Now, more than three years and a global recession later, the government has realized that the financing system has flaws, and Finance Canada has opened consultations to hear Canadians’ potential fixes. The CIA’s submission can be found here.

Once again, CIA representatives (led by Michel Bédard) have met with members of Parliament, the CEIFB and policy officials to share our ideas. This effort is not yet complete, and more meetings are being scheduled in the coming weeks.

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